October 31, 2012


Every day, every moment, we have a choice.

Not to oversimplify things, but…shit happens.

I was in a horrible mood earlier. Everything was making me grouchy. The woman who screwed up my coffee. The guy that kept pestering me while I was trying to work. Traffic. Stupid wifi wasn’t working. Stuff I forgot to do. Ripped my sweater on a nail sticking out. Not being able to find my keys and then breaking my key chain—again. Really just unimportant first world problems.

The big issue here is not whether negative things and feelings will come in to our lives—they’re coming. Count on it. And much bigger, badder stuff that my silly grumpy complaints.

We can choose to ignore it and pretend everything is sunshine happyland all the time and never be real. We can choose to be overwhelmed by it. Or we can choose to acknowledge it as reality and breathe through it, learn from it and move on. Compassion for ourselves when we have negative feelings isn’t wallowing in those feelings any more than it is pretending that they don’t exist. Compassion for ourselves when negativity comes is looking at all of it and choosing mindfully how to respond.

“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.”

~ Pema Chodron

P.S. When you aren’t sure you can be present with it: Tonglen.


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Gabriela Mar 5, 2013 8:37am

HI Leah. I debated whether I should reply to your comment or not, since yours is a very personal experience that should be treated with the utmost respect and sensitivity. I think unless one goes through such an experience as caretaking for a special needs child, all words or advice sound like a cliche, totally disconnected from reality. I totally understand your standpoint in regards to this article. I've been through the same convulsions since the birth of a high needs baby in my family whose life is constantly at risk. I don't want to hear about "acknowledging the negativity but letting it go", or "breathe through it, let it go and move on".
However, in my own struggle to find peace in order to still function and tend to my family's needs, I came to realize that, even if I feel helpless and cannot fix this baby and make him perfect (as others would define "perfection"), I need to honor the pain that I'm feeling and that the pain is so great because the love is so so great. With this realization, I did find some comfort.

Gabriela Mar 5, 2013 8:38am

In my struggle to understand, I realized that a constant resentment would paralyse and incapacitate me. I also thought that my pain came from my own fears and expectations and that nature comes in various shapes and sizes that should all be loved, as they are, not as we expect them to be.
I still have so much to learn…and this kid has been an amazing teacher, this way.

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